First Two BA7 Crit/Tutorials

At the beginning of the week I had the first crit of the year with Catrin about my ideas and development as we move into BA7. We’re currently still working on the Curating Dialogues side project to warm up for the year for for the past week development of BA7 has sort of taken to the sidelines. But I still had a few ideas and possibilities to talk about, fortunately!

The main points raised for improvement/where to take the project next were the good ol’ usual; “start to narrow down your ideas more to give yourself a clear direction”. I’d be looking into, as previous posts will explain, the idea of using the Ugly Animal Preservation Society as a starting point or a bounce off element for this project, potentially using the society itself as a central aspect of the project. I was considering ideas like a rebrand of the organisation or creating a set of promotional materials intended to be advertising them. These seemed like plausible ideas until Catrin so rightly pointed out – thats not the direction I want to take my career so it shouldn’t really be the direction I take the final projects.
She reminded me that I should focus on what I enjoy doing, what I’m good at doing and what I want to continue doing, which isn’t branding. I do of course enjoy graphic design elements but not doing a heavily graphic design focussed project.

I explained how I initially tried to steer clear of projects like book covers/illustrations simply because a lot of our previous briefs, self written or otherwise, have been focused around the subject of books and publications illustration. Apparently this won’t be an issue with BA7 & 8, its more of a narrow down your focus to what you really want to do, irrespective of previous projects, which is good news!


The next crit/review we had was today. It was a group review which I found extremely useful, more so than the one on one crit. I got some brilliant feedback from everybody in the group as we went around looking at each other’s work, a lot of comments about how my personal interest in the subject will help, I definitely agree! I’m glad I’ve finally found a subject matter that I know I will remain interested in throughout the duration of it, perhaps even into BA8 (which is what I am hoping to do). I was worried, before I settled on this idea, that if I chose a subject matter I was deeply interested in that the outcome(s) and development work would sway too close to my comfort zone and I’d be stuck in the A4 sketchbook world, but by researching further into the bestiary idea I know that this project will take me outside of that comfort zone but still retaining my interest.
I’m building up an image hoard of inspiration in my Pintrest account which is proving itself to be a valuable source for when ideas and thoughts start to dry up. I’m also finding it an excellent place to store images from artists that get suggested to me, like Gunther Von Hagens and the writer James Elkins. I’ve definitely found myself to be a visual learner, I need a good selection of visual material to keep my brain on track with the project. With all this imagery I’ve gathered combined with the ideas we discussed today in the review, I’m excited to get started on something visual in my sketchbook, can’t wait to start knocking out the doodles.


We recently had a talk from Sam Arthur of NoBrow  as well which further helped me in my subject. NoBrow published the book, ‘The Bento Bestiary’ (image above is an inside illustration from it) which is a really strange but wonderful approach to a bestiary.
From what I’ve seen, the general aesthetics of a bestiary is a rather traditional, medieval looking collection of images with the beasts and descriptions in a uniformed format. Bento Bestiary retains the uniformity of separation of text and image but with the fantastical and geometric images adding a whole new modern dimension to the bestiary.
I love the approach, personally. I think its an ideal way to capture the image of a fantastical/made up creature in an original and fun way while still engaging the audience in the creatures ‘existence’ with the description on the facing page.
I’m not sure if I want to go down the path of fantasy beasts and creatures, I think I’d rather stick to the ones that exist. But as Catrin pointed out today in the review; some of the lesser known and stranger animals almost sound fictional when you try to describe them. Animals like the Thorny Devil and Gulper Eel come to mind. Perhaps this ‘fictional’ feel to these real animals could be something worth looking more into?

Another excellent idea raised today was to juxtapose the ‘ugly animals’ with domesticated or ‘safe’ settings, creating a strange contrast which could potentially give the animal in question less of an immediate negative connotations. Examples like a crocodile using a cat flap or a toad in a dog basket were particularly intriguing, definitely something I’ll be generating images for very soon. Sounds like fun, drawing strange animals in very everyday environments!

I’ll update soon on my progress with ideas and/or visuals!


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